By: Larissa | April 30, 2014 | (27) Comments

Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle PaigeDorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige
Series: Dorothy Must Die, #1
Publisher: HarperCollins
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Genres: Action, Fairytale Retelling, YA
Pages: 452
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase

I didn't ask for any of this. I didn't ask to be some kind of hero.
But when your whole life gets swept up by a tornado—taking you with it—you have no choice but to go along, you know?

Sure, I've read the books. I've seen the movies. I know the song about the rainbow and the happy little blue birds. But I never expected Oz to look like this. To be a place where Good Witches can't be trusted, Wicked Witches may just be the good guys, and winged monkeys can be executed for acts of rebellion. There's still the yellow brick road, though—but even that's crumbling.

What happened?
Dorothy. They say she found a way to come back to Oz. They say she seized power and the power went to her head. And now no one is safe.

My name is Amy Gumm—and I'm the other girl from Kansas.
I've been recruited by the Revolutionary Order of the Wicked.
I've been trained to fight.
And I have a mission:
Remove the Tin Woodman's heart.
Steal the Scarecrow's brain.
Take the Lion's courage.
Then and only then—Dorothy must die!

I found myself completely enamoured with this retelling and I can only hope that this review will do my love for this book justice. Dorothy Must Die  takes the original tale of Oz and spins it on its head. It adds in unique features that allows you to differentiate it from the original and Danielle definitely managed to make this story her own. However, Dorothy Must Die is still faithful to the original as it retains core themes and values, the ‘definitely not in Kansas anymore’ atmosphere and some of the original characters. These characters are definitely twisted and skewed in Dorothy Must Die  though

Dorothy is the prime example of this. Danielle has definitely managed to make me feel complete and utter hatred for this character. It’s quite amazing actually, how much I felt like killing Dorothy myself.  This girl in the familiar blue and white gingham pattern is a completely changed individual compared to the original. To be exact, she’s now a raving mad woman bitch psychopath.  She rules over Oz with complete and utter cruelty and shows no concern for anybody other than herself. She’s turned Oz from a magical place to one that’s completely dark and grim. Dorothy is also controlling to an insane point, punishing anybody for dares step even the tiniest bit out of line. She doesn’t hesitate to punish even a flying cute monkey for sass. The punishment entails pinning him to a tree for days upon days. There’s also this scene regarding the killing of a mouse which made me completely shudder and feel utterly disgusted.

Where her eyes should have been there were instead just two empty, blackened sockets. Her mouth was hanging open as if it’d been frozen in mid-scream.

“Unfortunately there was a bit of a mishap during her interrogation,” Dorothy said.

Dorothy is truly a chilling antagonist which is made even more clear by the above quotation regarding a maid who had betrayed her. I don’t think I’ve read a story in a while where the antagonist has left me with so much hate. However, at the same time you can’t help be intrigued by Dorothy. What would have had to happen to a person to make them become so inhuman? That question is danced around in this installment, but never really answered. I’m confident that it’ll be the focus of the sequels. This one does clearly show cause why Dorothy can’t stand Amy Gumm, the protagonist though. I enjoyed that Dorothy is given a reason for this hatred, and isn’t simply hating blindly. It truly showcases key personality traits that Dorothy has in this Oz. One of these traits is vanity, which is quite played up. I must admit that  at times the hyper sexualization of Dorothy was too much. Still, I think it’s key to understanding Dorothy’s personality and motivations in this novel and its sequels.

I mentioned the protagonist in the above paragraph, Amy Gumm.  Her voice was one that I very much enjoyed and because of it, I found myself even more immersed in this dark world of Oz. Amy is a girl who I found strong, but also very realistic. When Amy becomes aware of certain situations and what’s expected of her, she just doesn’t blindly go off doing those things. In fact, Amy usually tends to run away and this made her more realistic and relatable to me. Soon she does realize her place and what must be done though, and once she makes a choice she sticks to her guns and becomes very strong.  Another thing I loved about Amy was how the author paints her relationship with her mother. It’s definitely a rocky one, the mother suffers from alcoholism. Still, you can still plainly see that Amy cares about her mother. Throughout this novel you see Amy struggle with her feelings towards her mother and I loved seeing that the mother still had a prominent role in the story, even if she wasn’t directly involved with things in Oz.

Amy also manages to find some humor in dark situations, which was nice to read amidst Dorothy’s madness and violence.

“If I don’t come back,” I told her, “find a way to give everyone the plague.”

The aforementioned quote was spoken to Starr, Amy’s pet rat. It was during a time in which Amy is in a jail cell so this line was great to lighten the mood. I actually chuckled while reading it. Lines like these made me fall even deeper in love with Amy’s characterization.

There was romance for Amy in Dorothy Must Die, but I do think it was the weakest point of the novel. On the plus side, there wasn’t so much time spent on the romance that it overwhelmed the plot. This was actually very good, I would have been very disappointed to see this amazing story tossed to the side for a romance. Though it was because of that lack of time spent developing the romance that I couldn’t quite find myself connecting to it all of the way. I hope that future installments in this series will continue to focus on the plot line, but also find a way to incorporate the romance so it feels better developed and something that I can better enjoy.

The main star of Dorothy Must Die was easily the vivid imagery and worldbuilding of Oz. It was so dark and I completely and utterly adored it. Dorothy’s reign of terror has led to murderous creatures prowling around ready to kill at her every whim, desolate wastelands devoid of magic and landscapes that are very Tim Burton creepy esque. The worldbuilding was so intriguing it me and I found myself wanting to learn more and more about Oz. The author skillfully twists the traditional image of Oz and turns into something utterly sinister and alluring. I just couldn’t get enough of it. Danielle’s Oz is just asking to be translated into media and is in fact being made into a TV show. I’ll definitely be one watching that TV show and marvelling at how darkly fantastical it’ll look.

After a while, the bedraggled fields by the side of the road turned into huge cornfields on either side, with stalks as tall as my body. I was used to cornfields back in Kansas, obviously, but these were different: every ear was as black and shiny as oil. It looked like each one had been dipped in tar. Or, like all of the life had been sucked out of them and something dead and evil pumped back in their place

All of the descriptions were like the above and they all evoked the dark and eerie mood of Dorothy Must Die to a tee

Something that you should be aware about before starting Dorothy Must Die  is that it’s the first of a series. This means that there’s a lot of plot, character and setting development. However there will be less resolutions, relationship development and concrete answers. It simply makes sense that this installment is the build up for what is going to follow. Dorothy Must Die does end with a scream worthy cliffhanger that will drive you up the wall. It also ends with a major plot twist you won’t see coming regarding one of the characters, at least I didn’t see it coming anyway. I can’t wait to read more by Danielle Paige and see what else to see what this mystical world of Oz and the lovely Amy Gumm has to offer.

Overall, Dorothy Must Die  was a very enjoyable read. I only had a few quibbles, but they were easy to look over due to the fact that this was the first in a series, the lovely characters  and the immersive world building. I’d definitely recommend this one to anybody looking for a dark retelling of a classic story.


4.5 Stars
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Larissa was born and still is living in the land of ice, snow and maple syrup. She's 18 years old and really has no idea what to do with her life lately. Larissa's plans are constantly changing--though there’s one thing has remained constant throughout her seventeen years, and that’s reading. It takes her to another world and puts her into impossible situations and that’s why she loves it so much.

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27 Responses to Review: Dorothy Must Die by Danielle Paige

  1. I have to say, I hadn’t seen a positive review of this before yours and it’s actually given a little bit of hope towards the author and the book. We’ve all heard about the ‘book packaging’ for this book, but in the end, it is all about the book, and Paige has won you over. From the quotes I don’t know if I’d take to the writing all that much, but maybe one day. I’m glad you enjoyed it Larrisa and hope you continue to enjoy the series 🙂
    Amanda @ Book Badger recently posted…Book Reviews – Sweet Peril/Sweet Peril ExtraMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Really? I’ve actually seen quite a few positive ones and a few mediocre ones :p Nothing super negative. I do hope you give this one a chance so you can form your own opinion on it. I actually hadn’t heard about the ‘book packaging’ until I bought the book, lol was late on that one. If i knew beforehand I probably would have just got it from the library or something. Still, the book and its writing is the most important part and I ended up loving it. Thanks for the comment c:

  2. Yay, I’ve read so many reviews of this book and it sounds awesome so far! I love how it’s a dark retelling of a loved fairytale, although the overt sexualisation of Dorothy sounds like it’s a bit concerning. I’ve placed this on hold at my library – can’t wait! Great review Larissa 🙂
    Jeann @ Happy Indulgence recently posted…Divergent Movie Discussion with Jeann & Chiara – Part 1My Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yeah it was quite a nice take of the classic Oz story. The over sexualization was annoying, but not to the point where it caused massive problems. Oooo! I hope you enjoy this one as much as I did [: Thank you Jeann!

  3. lily says:

    I’m happy you enjoyed this one Larissa!
    I ended up reading it a few weeks ago and i’m still not convinced on what my stance is. I know i enjoyed it, the dark retelling aspect was pretty awesome and the whole idea behind Dorothy being all curropt was intriguing but i also had a few problems with the book. The romance left me scratching my head and the set up off the whole book felt like a prequel to the real deal although i did enjoy it enough to want to continue the series.
    Great review!
    Lily @ Lilysbookblog
    lily recently posted…Since You’ve Been Gone:ReviewMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Thanks! (:
      Yeah I really did adore the darkness of this one. For me the romance wasn’t an issue as it was just introduced and not all in your face. I do understand what you mean with Dorothy Must Die seeming like a prequel, but for me it just read like the first of the trilogy. The beginning of any series usually tends to be quite on the introductory side

  4. I just got the audiobook for this last week and I think I might start it today, so excited for it!
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  5. So I honestly only skimmed this review because I recently received the audiobook and I hope to get to it very soon. But I’m SO happy to see you loved it!! 🙂 Thanks for the warning about the intense character development, etc. That’s always good to know beforehand. I can’t wait to read it!!
    Lisa @ Lost in Literature recently posted…Waiting on Wednesday: The Dare by Hannah Jayne & All Lined Up by Cora CarmackMy Profile

  6. I’ve seen such mixed reviews for this one. Seems either people love or hate it. I imagine I’ll have to read it to see how I feel 🙂 so happy you loved it and great review!
    Kristen@My Friends Are Fiction recently posted…Review of The Falconer by Elizabeth MayMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Really? I’ve seen love and some mediocre ones, but no hate yet 😛 I’ll have to check some out. I hope you enjoy this one! And thank you <33

  7. Zoe N. says:

    I just finished this one as well Larissa, and I absolutely loved it as well! I agree…there’s just something about Dorothy as a protagonist that evokes such a mixture of fear and intrigue that makes for such a complex antagonist. I’m glad you found Amy enjoyable as well – she’s such a relatable MC, isn’t she? And absolutely! The world-building here was just simply astounding. Like you said, definitely the highlight of the book.

    Glad you liked this one as much as I did Larissa! Thanks so much for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3
    Zoe N. recently posted…Love Letters to the DeadMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Yay! I’m so glad you loved it c: Dorothy was so scary in this one haha! Definitely a far cry from the girl with the ruby red slippers. The world building really set the tone and mood for this book, it was one of the best examples of good world building that I’ve read recently.

      Thank you! (: You’re so sweet girl <33

  8. Alcoholism always hits me weird when I read characters with it or their parents. But this does sound so darkly delicious.
    Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Sharon Lynn Fisher dishes on the Sci-Fi Fantasy of BioPunk & GiveawayMy Profile

  9. Nice to see a positive review for a change 🙂 what with the whole Full Fathom Five thing and people not liking it, I didn’t want to pick this up at all. But if I find it in a library, I’ll definitely pick it up – I’m a sucker for retellings! Great review!
    Emily @ The Loony Teen Writer recently posted…Dead Ends by Erin Lange: a likeable bullyMy Profile

  10. I’ve seen such a mix of reviews from this, so it’s good to see a really positive one! I like the sound of a darker version of Oz and I’m so looking forward to reading this re-telling!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist
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  11. Retellings, when done well, is EPIC! I think I need to be in a specific mood to read this book, since I did try to start this one, but failed to continue onto the next chapter. But your review is making me rethink putting it down!
    Dre @ Sporadic Reads recently posted…Sale Alert : What Tomorrow May Bring: An 10-book YA Dytopian Boxed SetMy Profile

  12. I have this deep, sincere love for dark retellings! “She’s now a raving mad woman bitch psychopath.” Hahahaha! Anyway, I do like the spin put in this one, and that the heroine is realistic. I’d definitely run away in all dire situations, lol! I’m super stoked to read it! And I find that we have mostly similar tastes, so hopefully I’ll enjoy this one as much as you did!
    Aimee @ Deadly Darlings recently posted…Review: Played by Liz FicheraMy Profile

    • Larissa says:

      Same! I think you’d love this one. Hehe [; I thought that was a pretty accurate description of Dorothy in this one. I loved Amy as a protagonist c: She was awesome. I really hope you do love this one as much as I did <33

  13. Melanie says:

    Ooh you’ve loved this and so has Wendy, meaning that I clearly need this book in my life, despite of the book packaging issue. It’s a real shame, because she would have done very well without it. my library doesn’t have it yet -.- am thinking of buying it now.

    Lovely review, luv! <33

  14. Larissa says:

    You do! I believe Daniell really would have been perfectly fine without the whole book packaging thing. Ahhh that’s annoying! /:

    Thank you <33

  15. We already chatted on Twitter about this, but I’m so excited that you loved this! Great review.

    Did you notice, by the way, that Amy’s last name “Gumm” is Judy Garland’s real last name? I thought that was a clever nod to fans of the film.

    Can’t wait for book two! And three! Man, we have so long to wait until this whole thing is concluded.
    Wendy Darling recently posted…TMG Updates + summer giveawayMy Profile

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